Skittish about skateparks? How about a tour?

As we reported last week after covering the Morgan Community Association‘s quarterly meeting, some controversy remains over the Parks Department‘s plan to save space for a skateboard “feature” at the soon-to-be-built Myrtle Reservoir park. At that meeting, Parks Department project manager Virginia Hassinger suggested a firsthand look at some existing skateboarding facilities might assuage concerns. MoCA’s Cindi Barker is proposing organizing a tour this Saturday if enough people are interested. Here’s more from Cindi:

One of the suggestions made near the end of last week’s Morgan Community Association meeting was for people who had not been to see a skatepark in action to take a “field trip” to get some info. I’d be willing to organize such a trip, something like in a caravan to visit the Ballard Bowl (4,200 sq ft bowl), the Burien Skate park (a 7,500-square-foot skate park, Nakano Associates, architect, coincidentally the same architect hired to do the Myrtle Reservoir Park itself) and a third park mentioned by Virginia Hassinger at the MoCA meeting, which sounds smaller in scale and is more melded in with the surrounding park rather than a pure bowl design. If neighbors can observe the skate parks in operation, it might answer some questions and give neighbors a good idea of what they can expect. I realize that the next Myrtle Reservoir Park design meeting on May 1 isn’t about the skatepark, but it sure is sounding like we should know what to consider around this proposed skatepark feature. I would propose a Saturday morning, maybe running from 10 to 2, to cover drive time and allow us to spend about 45 minutes at each park. If people could comment to this posting, it would give me an idea of how feasible or well attended this would be.

No obligation, but if you’re potentially interested, say so in the comments here and we’ll let you know about “next steps.” This could be a good prelude to the next public meeting about the Myrtle park, which is 7 pm May 1 at High Point Community Center.

11 Replies to "Skittish about skateparks? How about a tour?"

  • Michael Pradip April 21, 2008 (7:45 pm)

    Hey people,

    Do not be scared of skate boarders! They have a hobby they love, they are decent kids and it is miles ahead of hip hop culture with the filthy lyrics and gangster rap. Skate boarders are cool!
    Kids need a creative outlet that is physical and social, and skate boarding is all that.
    We need a skate board feature at the new park. We need a couple of skate board features around West Seattle.

  • Sue Scharff April 21, 2008 (11:47 pm)

    roger that, michael! i would be very interested in a field trip; what a brilliant idea, cindi! i think if people see skate parks in action, they’ll realize how little there is to fear in them.
    this saturday, however, is ercolini park day, so it might be difficult to do both. i’ll keep an eye out for developments here.

  • Kim Kelly April 22, 2008 (10:30 am)

    I would be interested in checking out some of the area skate parks. I’m a definite supporter of the Myrtle Park skatepark decision so you’re preaching to the choir here. I think it would be most beneficial to get those who think a skatepark will create a negative neighborhood environment to attend the field trip. I can back up Michael’s statement above. Growing up, many of my friends and siblings were into skateboarding. The biggest complaint is they had nowhere to go to practice their hobby. I think it’s important to support an activity that gives kids a reason to go outside and excercise rather than playing Tony Hawk Skateboarding video games.

  • Sleepless (too noisy) April 22, 2008 (12:44 pm)

    I think it’s best to site skate parks or facilities away from residences, where people SLEEP. The skate park at the Seattle Center will be great because it will not cause anyone to have an unhealthy sleep deficit.
    In my personal experience, I have had to call the police many times because of very loud noise levels created by kids skate-boarding across the street. Do the supporters (above) live directly across the street from a skate park?
    If there is no fence around this ten thousand square foot concrete skate park –tennis court size– then kids might think “why not skate at all hours of the night?!” If Parks intends to plow ahead with its Myrtle Skate Park, then the residents nearby should at least be given a concession of a lockable fence. Parks staff would lock the fence at closing time and open it in the morning. This was the only thing that worked our case. Now that there is a fence around the nearby skate park, at least we get some peace and quiet at night.

  • Sleepless (too noisy) April 22, 2008 (12:56 pm)

    Yes, it’s a good idea to go out and see an actual skate park in use. If there is a tour this Saturday, the vocal skate board ‘lobby’ might be on its best behavior after getting a heads up that people will be visiting their skate parks from ten til two o’clock. Or, they could purposely refrain from using those skate parks so that there is no noise to be witnessed by the onlookers. It appears that this lobby group even intends to accompany people on the tour–more opportunities to persuade those who are unaware of the issues, right?!
    Why not talk to people who LIVE NEAR a skate park. Are they able to sleep at night in a quiet community? Do they have to call the police because of loud skate boarding activity late at night or extremely early in the morning? Do residents have problems parking their vehicles because skate boarder friends and relatives have parked in front of their house/apt?

  • Skateboarding Family Man April 23, 2008 (12:08 pm)

    To Sleepless:

    What skatepark do you live near? Or are your objections hypothetical? If they are hypothetical (hypochondriac?), might it be useful to first do as you say, and speak with people whom live near parks?

    Noise impacts can be easily studied, and your concern about being audibly bothered can be addressed. Is a skatepark louder than a 4 lane road? A high school campus in the early morning? A young children’s playground? A condo construction project? These questions are valid, and can be answered. They have been answered in Portland, OR, where the city has assessed all sorts of impacts as they relate to the communities in which skateparks are built. I would encourage you to investigate the data, if noise is truly your concern.

    But, often, the anti-skatepark concern is cultural-NIMBYism, a way of saying to some people: “I don’t want you in my community.” Sleepless, it might be useful for you to know whom rides a skateboard. A recent report published in USAToday showed that more youth in America today skateboard than play baseball (gasp!) and less ‘apple-pie’ sports such tennis. If you do a quick comparison of say, how much public park square acreage is allocated to baseball fields, or even tennis courts, compared to skateparks, it should be clear that healthy public spaces in a community ought to include options for skateboarders.

    As for your objection based on parking scarcity, that is an argument against making anything in a community a more worthwhile destination! “Hey Seattle, don’t maintain that beach! People will come to it! It’ll be harder for me to find parking on my beachfront street!” Yes, parking will become more scarce as a community becomes a more attractive destination.

    We, the citizens of West Seattle deserve to have a candid, respectful conversation based on facts: How noisy is a skatepark? (More quiet than car traffic); How healthy is skateboarding? (Very, but its not like we have an obesity problem in America…); What are the correlated crime-impacts on a community? (Crime goes down); Whom skateboards? (Millions of upstanding Americans).

    Help bring public skateparks to public spaces!

  • Kim Kelly April 23, 2008 (5:09 pm)

    I can understand that noice might be a concern, but if you look at the schematic of the skatepark, you will notice that it is going to be located in the corner of the park farthest away from any homes: on the 35th Ave SW side – where the traffic noise is by far going to be louder than any skateboarders (as pointed out by SFM above).

    In addition, don’t parks usually close at designated times during the evening?

  • Cindi April 23, 2008 (9:40 pm)

    It’s Weds night and I’m only seeing 1 yes and 1 yes/maybe with a conflict. Since I just got told about a grandkid birthday party on Saturday(roller skating! – time to break a leg), I’m going to postpone until late May, which is the next open weekend I’ll have.
    Regarding talking to neighbors, maybe I can use the time in between to make contact with Burien and Ella Bailey park neighbors and see if they’d be willing to talk with a group. I just wouldn’t want to show up with a crowd knocking on doors.
    But don’t let this postponement keep any of you from stopping at a skatepark on your own. I have done brief stops at Burien and Ballard already and found them very educational.

  • Sleep supporter April 24, 2008 (2:35 pm)

    Skate park schedule: People who live near the skate park need to get enough zzz’s–whether they’re ‘early birds’ or ‘night owls’. Any skate park that is sited near residential units ideally closes each day at a certain time and then reopens at a certain time in the morning. To cover everyone’s sleep schedule, we would have skate park hours that would allow everyone to have a chance to sleep. Seattle Parks has not stated what this particular skate park’s hours of operation would be, and this will be an important topic of discussion at the 5/1/08 meeting.
    Fence: A lockable fence around the skate park would ensure that neighbors have a certain amount of quiet time for sleeping. Traffic levels taper off when commuters are reaching their homes, so 35th Ave SW is not always a loud arterial. Without a fence, kids’ skating activity used to wake us up at odd hours of the night or early morning (usually late at night). The residents on the ‘skate boarder side’ of our apartment building used to hear skate board ricochets + reverbations late at night. It was stressful and tiring. We spent years reporting loud noise levels to the police and trying to persuade the local youth group to please install a fence. Now that the fence is here (and locked each night), we can sleep at night!

  • baba nulu April 25, 2008 (9:45 am)

    Skip the field trip to other skate parks. Just go to the I-35 and Willow site of the proposed park.
    If you drive, park anywhere along 35th, Willow, 36th or Myrtle. They are all open. Notice that there is no lack of street parking, more than enough open legal street-side parking to accommodate multiple skate parks. Of course, many skate park users will not be driving and parking. The dozens of local kids growing into skating, where we live on 36th as neighbors of the park, certainly will not be driving.
    Nor will those who arrive by the several bus lines so close by. Probably some skaters will be dropped off and picked up by parents. Others will ride bikes. PARKING IS NOT A VALID ISSUE!
    After checking out the parking, please stand on the corner of Willow and 35th Ave SW. Close your eyes for a few seconds and listen. If anyone has a valid sound level issue, it should be the skaters doing the complaining. If “Sleepless” actually lives nearby, he should use the same techniques he uses to screen out the present 35th Ave. noise including cars, trucks, buses, police sirens, rumbling fire trucks, aid vehicles, loud motorcycles and the occasional helicopter. This din can be 24 hours a day. People with sleep/noise issues often improve their sleeping area with noise reducing techniques such as sound insulation and window treatments. But still a loud car, a leaf blower down the block, the lawn mower next door or a low flying Boeing Field plane will rise above. NOISE IS NOT A VALID ISSUE.
    Park Hours are posted on signs at the entrance to Seattle Parks. A skate park can also have posted hours. This proposed park, in such a prominent location, will be under the scrutiny of I-35. Seattle Police constantly travel 35th. It is close to and on the way to the cop shop. Curfew violators at the skate park will have a far tougher time than we use to at Lincoln Park after closing. HOURS ARE NOT A VALID ISSUE-Simply post them.

  • MLJ April 30, 2008 (11:38 am)

    Regarding fences:

    Neighbors may want to reconsider their fence positions.

    Fences may deter off-hour skateboarding in edge cases, but it’s usually dark during those hours, which makes skateboard difficult anyway. Seattle skateparks are open during the hours that the park is open. But the majority of the time the fence is not necessary and incredibly damaging to the park’s aesthetics.

    The downside to fencing for neighbors is that it’s ugly. There are ways to contain the skateboarding activity within the park, without surrounding the entire site with an ugly cyclone cage. Fences also deter clear sight-lines through the park and make it harder for you and police to keep eyes on the park.

    As a skateboarder I would prefer not to be caged in, and would also like to be able to appreciate the stellar views and the rest of the open space in this park from within the skate area.

    Skateboarders like views and open spaces too!

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